Post liberalisation, consumption and consumerism in India has increased manifold. Indian consumers became more enlightened about newer international brands that were hitherto unknown to them and with it heralded a new era of consumerism that went on dominate the Indian market scenario. Also, India is home to the largest number of citizens that come in the 25-30 old age bracket and it is this group particularly that is driving the maximum consumerism in the country. Taking a gauge of this situation are the retail brands that are already on an expansion spree across the country and adding new offerings to its already existent product portfolio to cater to this overtly demanding segment.
But brand positioning is not an easier task either, especially in a market landscape where thousands of such brands are already present. Under such circumstances, celebrity endorsement becomes the easiest route for these brands to make its presence felt in the minds of the consumers and build its connect with the youth population.
Reason for signing a celebrity could be many. While some attribute it to the simple fact that endorsement help in garnering faster brand recognition, others believe that it is the buying decisions of consumers that get influenced by such a move. Endorsement by celebrities helps the brand in building an association and emotional unity with the target group and this further helps in aggrandizing the overall brand image. A company like Philips which promoted its products a decade back by using high profile faces like Sachin Tendulkar and Aishwarya Rai, has chose to take the celebrity endorsement route again by roping in John Abraham as its brand ambassador. The brand which is building a youth oriented image for itself was on a look out for a new face who could actually help in making this happen and John Abraham, enjoying a great following among the youth of the country seemed to be the most viable name. "As a strategy, Philips has never gone into celebrity endorsements in a heavy way in most countries before. So this is a transformation that it is going through in terms of changing the brand image," comments Philips India Consumer Lifestyle Business Head and VP Anjan Bose.
Some others feel that a celebrity helps in portraying the traits and qualities that a product or a brand stand for and it becomes relatively easier and more effective to send across the message to the consumers. A Brand like The Body Shop, which has signed actress Dia Mirza is a good example to support this view. For the first time ever, the brand announced an Indian face to represent its range of naturally inspired and ethically produced beauty and cosmetics products in India.
David Smith, The Body Shop, Asia Pacific Managing Director says, “She embodies everything that the brand stands for - natural beauty with a deep respect for the people and the environment. We are confident that Dia will portray excellently the fantastic skincare, hair care and make-up ranges that The Body Shop is renowned for."
But a brand also runs the risk of getting the brand image marred if the selection of the celebrity goes wrong. This has been the case with many renowned brands and it only results in denigration of the brand image in the eyes of the consumers.
Celebrity endorsement is a strategy almost every retail brands are seen adopting it today. While some believe it does help in brand promotion and recognition, there are still some others who think endorsements always become the last resort for brands when they are not doing well in the market. Though this may not be true in every situation, the fact still remains that celebrity endorsement has its marketing benefits and it these benefits that the brands try to derive to the core from every possible endorsements.